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Jul 08, 2011

Twirling Candy odds-on favorite for Gold Cup

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Eight older thoroughbreds, seven males and one female, have been entered for Saturday's 72nd running of the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park. The winner of the 1 1/4-mile test on Hollywood's synthetic main track will receive a guaranteed spot in this year's Breeders' Cup Classic in November.

According to the morning-line, the race among all but the favorite will be for second-place. Four-year-old colt Twirling Candy is the overwhelming 4-5 program pick for the Gold Cup.

Trained by John Sadler, Twirling Candy has drawn the inside post for his first start since winning last month's Californian at the Inglewood track.

"We took the blinkers off because we wanted to see him relax," Sadler noted after Twirling Candy's 1 1/4-length win. "He trains without the blinkers in the morning. He's just a very, very good horse, a very gifted horse. And he's exciting, too."

The colt is ridden by Joel Rosario, who has been aboard for six of Twirling Candy's seven career victories.

"He's a real good horse," Rosario said. "He can do anything. When he sees horses in front of him he just goes and gets them."

In only nine lifetime starts the four-year-old son of Candy Ride has earned $684,900 with important victories in the Del Mar Derby, Malibu and Strub Stakes.

Defending winner of the Gold Cup, Awesome Gem, has been tagged in the morning- line at 10-1. He won last year's edition at 8-1 versus five rivals. The eight- year-old gelding, trained by Craig Dollase, will break from post five with David Flores returning to ride.

"The horse is in good form and likes the track," noted Dollase. "He has a good shot to defend his title. He bounced back from his trip to Iowa real well. I've been real happy with him the last week."

Awesome Gem was second in the Cornhusker Handicap two weeks ago at Prairie Meadows. In 44 career starts he has eight wins and 14 seconds for more than $2.5 million.

The lone female entered is six-year-old mare Miss Match. No lady has won the Gold Cup since Princessnesian in 1968.

Trained by Neil Drysdale, Miss Match is a distinct outsider for the race at 20-1 in the program. Joe Talamo is back to ride the mare and the pair will start from post two.

In 22 career starts she has six wins, two seconds and seven thirds for $606,614. Three weeks ago the mare was third to Blind Luck in the Vanity Handicap and in April was soundly defeated in the Apple Blossom Handicap by Havre de Grace. She was able to post a head victory over Switch this year in the Santa Margarita Handicap.

Here is the complete field for the Hollywood Gold Cup in post position order: Twirling Candy, Joel Rosario, 4-5; Miss Match, Joe Talamo, 20-1; Setsuko, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Game On Dude, Chantal Sutherland, 6-1; Awesome Gem, David Flores, 10-1; Soul Candy, Garrett Gomez, 10-1; First Dude, Martin Garcia, 5-1 and Dark Cove, Rafael Bejarano, 12-1.

Post-time for the Hollywood Gold Cup is set for 7:40 p.m. (et) and will be televised on ESPN.

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